I have been on the board of FFH for 3 years and in that time have come to understand the leadership role it plays in the field of microcredit organizations by promoting basic education modules in conjunction with loan repayment meetings. These modules cover money management, basic business skills, basic health care and nutrition. FFH's underlying premise is based on the data that shows women will use the money they make on a small business feel their familes and thus reduce chronic hunger. FFH is a very ethical, sensitively run organization with a big heart.
I was first introduced to Freedom From Hunger about four years ago. A friend involved with the organization asked me if I would like to see what the organization did first hand. He invited me to go to Bolivia to visit villiages where women utilize the services provided by Freedom From Hunger (FFH). For five days I had the opportunity to sit in meetings where women discussed their businesses and carried on the financial transactions in order to keep their 'organizations' solvent. I saw education being delivered on such vital services as basic health care or putting away 'excess money' earned in a savings account. Items so basic it is taken for granted by most people in the U.S. Later at a round table session of the participants who traveld with FFH I was asked what I saw during the trip. My response was I saw hope being created where none likely existed before. I saw an organization creating opportunities for a better life to the women and children they reach. I saw dedication by an organization to those who don't have a voice but need to be heard. It was amazing for me personally and convinced me it was an organization that I wanted to be part of. Great people, great mission, great results!
As a venture capitalist, I have seen first hand what can happen when the flow of capital is directed to energetic and motivated entrepreneurs. When I first heard about Freedom From Hunger and its Credit with Education program, I wondered if the role of microfinance in the third world might possess similar characteristics and if it could help raise living standards. So I traveled to Haiti seven years ago to observe how Freedom From Hunger pursues its mission and to find out if it was successful. I discovered to my amazement that indeed microloans made to women to help fund their small businesses, when coupled with business or health education, are a powerful economic force. Instead of being a program that gives people fish, Credit with Education teaches people how to fish and lends them the capital to make it happen. The result is a sustainable increase in living standards. I joined Freedom From Hunger right after that trip and have been an enthusiastic supporter ever since.
I was introduced to Freedom from Hunger by a friend and was immediately engaged by the power of the credit with education model that Freedom from Hunger pioneered and the staff's commitment to not just doing the right thing, but doing things right-that is, with well documented results. Then, I had the privilege of visiting Haiti, and meeting many of the women whose own dedication, commitment and support of one another makes the Freedom from Hunger model truly transformational. As a result, I am continuously motivated to contribute time and resources to this organization. Of all the philanthropic activities in which I am engaged, I consider this one as yielding by far the highest and best social and tangible return on investment in the work to end poverty in our lifetime.
In January 2010, I visited Freedom From Hunger's microfinance with education program in Mali, West Africa. It was inspiring to see the commitment by the women who were able to save and borrow safely and affordably, sometimes for the first time in their lives. By combining savings and lending with education - in this case education related to malaria prevention and other health-related issues - FFH is helping poor women and their families develop tools to strengthen their families' basic financial sustainability. As a board member, I felt moved by the quality and impact of Freedom From Hunger's work.